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Hematologies - Dwaipayan Banerjee
Hematologies: The Political Life of Blood in India (Cornell University Press, 2019), turns to studying the creativity of Indian physicians, artists, activists, and patients in a different domain—the giving and receiving of blood. Across multiple field sites, my co-author anthropologist Jacob Copeman and I trace how blood coagulates political ideologies, biomedical rationalities, and activist practice. Our analysis spans anti-colonial appeals to blood sacrifice as a political philosophy to portraits of political leaders drawn using blood. By tracing blood's journey, we unlock novel perspectives on Indian politics, bridging physical and metaphorical realms.
Hematologies intervenes in scholarly debates about the social and political life of biological materials. Often literature on biomaterials in the Global South has portrayed bodies being made abject through extractive practices. Scholars have traced how the region is impoverished by the illegal organ trade, the extraction of genetic materials and therapeutic organisms, and transnational surrogacy. Our work here builds highlights local practices of biological exchange. Rather than thinking of Indian bodies through modes of extraction, we understand them as sites of generation. We track how blood is imaginatively deployed as an aesthetic medium, as an activist tool, and as an instrument for change. Hematologies has been translated into Japanese and featured in BBC World. A review in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the top-ranked anthropology journal in Europe, calls the book a ‘ground-breaking treatise’ that ‘opens up a new vein of perceiving blood as something more than just a substance, while engaging in a refined and expert discussion of anthropology’s social theory.’
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